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WARNING: Drivers Should Never Exit Running Vehicles

Few people realize the serious dangers of exiting a running vehicle, which could roll away or suddenly shift from neutral into drive or reverse causing serious property damage, personal injuries and even fatalities. The most infamous case in recent history is that of the late actor Anton Yelchin, the 27 year-old star of Star Trek who was killed after exiting his 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee, which crushed him against the brick pillar and metal security fence of his own home. Some reports indicate that due to the confusing nature of the Jeep’s automatic transmission shifter that he accidentally left the vehicle in neutral which allowed it roll into him while others have complained of similar incidents that after exiting their vehicles while in Park the electronic transmission control defectively shifted gears into drive or reverse. These vehicles are subject to a national recall involving over a million vehicles involving the defective transmissions, the confusing automatic transmission gear selector and further problems with the electronic parking brake which has been reported to unexpectedly engage while the vehicle was moving. Further information about the numerous complaints filed by consumers can be found on the website of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration at www.nhtsa.gov.

Besides the dangers caused when a driver exits a running vehicle as summarized above, there are further very serious concerns that arise when an operator foolishly does so. Such instances have involved car jacking’s where motorists left their vehicles running while going into a store or filling up their fuel tanks and strangers jumping into and speeding away with their vehicles with a child or other persons in the car. These cases can result in charges of parental neglect and the foreseeable result of kidnapping.

In addition to the dangers and risks of leaving a running vehicle unattended is the civil and sometimes even criminal liability of the owners and operators of vehicles who carelessly exit running vehicles or are just too foolish or lazy to take proper precautions. There are rare cases where the owners or operators of vehicles have been held civilly or criminally liable for the events caused by a car jacker during the otherwise avoidable misuse of the vehicle. Furthermore, leaving a key in a vehicle and especially leaving an unattended running vehicle can result in an insurance company disclaiming coverage for the theft or damage to the vehicle. There are even cases when cars or other vehicles are entrusted to valets at restaurants or parking garages, who in turn improperly leave the keys in the vehicle and the vehicles are stolen that the automobile insurance carrier denies any claim of theft or loss resulting from the vehicle being stolen with the keys inside.

There is an old saying in gun safety that every gun should always be treated as loaded even if you believe it is unloaded. To do so will avoid serious injury or death. The same can be said of running vehicles that they should always be treated as dangerous instruments and never left running without a competent adult driver behind the wheel. So, if you wish to avoid being seriously injured or killed by your own automobile or having it stolen without insurance or worse yet, your occupants being abducted, NEVER LEAVE YOUR VEHICLE WHILE IT IS RUNNING, BUT SHUT IT OFF AND REMOVE THE KEY WHENEVER EXITING THE VEHICLE.